The first Sergio Mendes LP bears few of the soft pop hallmarks of his subsequent Brasil '66 classics. Instead, Dance Moderno is a focused and straight-ahead collection of bossa nova grooves firmly in debt to the acknowledged master of the form, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Paired with a small, tight supporting unit, Mendes proves himself an inventive and intense pianist, shaped by both traditional Latin music and American jazz.
The sound and band that served Sergio Mendes well on Fool on the Hill remain intact on Crystal Illusions, with few modifications. Dave Grusin is right there with a lush, haunting orchestral chart when needed; Lani Hall is thrust further into the vocal spotlight, as cool and alluring as ever in Portuguese or English. Mendes remained on the lookout for fresh Brazilian tunes, and he came up with a coup, one of the earliest covers of a Milton Nascimento tune to reach North America, "Vera Cruz" (with Hall's English lyrics, it became "Empty Faces"), as well as Dori Caymmi's "Dois Dias."
A 1986 A&M album featuring a mix of Mendes' trademark Brazilian pop with vocals by Siedah Garrett and Joe Pizzulo, a traditional Brazilian styled tune "O Rio" (featuring the great Dori Caymmi on guitar and vocals), and a guest appearance by former Brasil '66 lead singer Lani Hall on "No Place To Hide".
Reissue with the latest 24bit remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. That's Brasil 65, not Brasil 66 – a distinction that marks a key early stage for the great Sergio Mendes – heard here on one of his first albums to mix together bossa jazz and vocals! The approach here is a bit more like vintage bossa dates from Brazil – or a bit like some of the Verve bossa records too – as Sergio's core trio is at the heart of every tune, playing with a great jazzy approach – then augmented in different ways by alto and flute from Bud Shank, guitar from Rosinha De Valenca, and vocals from the lovely Wanda De Sah! Production is perfect – really in a classic Elenco Records mode – and titles include "Let Me", "Consolacao", "Tristeza Em Mim", "Muito A Vontade", "Reza", "Berimbau", and "Aquarius".
What 1989's Arara hinted at, 1991's Brasileiro delivers with a vengeance, for at long last, here is a genuine, back-to-Brazil tour de force by expatriate Mendes. Taking up the long-abandoned thread of his prophetic Primal Roots album of 1972, Mendes went back to the taproots of his heritage, calling upon a plethora of explosive Brazilian rhythms and sounds recorded mostly in Brazil. Though he returned to California to pile on additional tracks from L.A. sessionmen and give the production a finished sheen, there is no sense of any watering down; the thrust of the music bears the added weight and polish easily.
For his follow-up to 2008’s Encanto, another “enchanted celebration” of the Brazilian songbook, Mendes returns with his refreshing and invigorating new Concord Records collection, Bom Tempo. The melodies are indelible, the explosive percussion is exciting, the harmony-laced singing exhilarates, and the arrangements exude both celebration and romance. “This is bom tempo music, good times music,” says the Brazilian-born, U.S.-based producer- composer pianist-keyboardist-arranger- who sought to sum up the CD with a succinct Portuguese title. “It’s all about the good times, good weather, good tempos. The album is about the diversity, joy and sensuality of Brazilian music—songs I previously recorded and some that I never have—played by Brazilian and American musicians.